writers resources / writers tips

Writer’s Tip #13: Be Specific

When you read your story, does it sound off, maybe you can’t quite put your finger on it, but you know you’ve done something wrong? Sometimes–maybe even lots of times–there are simple fixes. I’ll point them out. They’ll come at you once a week, giving you plenty of time to go through your story and make the adjustments.  Please add comments with your favorite editing fixes.

Sometimes, your character is rushing. When he runs past a dog, that’s all he sees–a dog. Or, maybe your character isn’t a dog person, so to him/her, they all look alike.

That’s OK, but it’s the exception. As a rule, be specific. When you see man’s best friend, don’t you usually see a poodle or a Labrador? Rarely is it just a dog. Your characters are the same. Tell the reader what type of dog it is.

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Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-sixth grade, creator of two technology training books for middle school and four ebooks on technology in education. She is the author of Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a bi-weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s editing a thriller for her agent that should be out to publishers this summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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2 thoughts on “Writer’s Tip #13: Be Specific

  1. Yes. When I use a specific noun, it’s not whimsical. The noun I select adds an image that meets a specific purpose.
    An image of a poodle conjures an entirely different feeling than that of a blood hound, don’t you think?


    • It’s about respecting the readers’ time constraints. If one word will do it, use it. That puts the onus on us to know that ‘right’ word. Sometimes that feels like getting over the tips of your skis–the effort is boggling.


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